Spotlight on Mission: Schoharie Christian After-School Program testimonial from Linda M

Linda shared this testimonial during the service on March 17th. Her moving words are being included in the newsletter and on the webpage blog so those who were there and wish to remember what she said may refer back, and also to share this story with everyone unable to be physically present.

One of my missions at our church is our After School Program. When I was asked to be part of a committee to look into the starting of a Christian After School Program, I thought 'No Way do I want to be part of this.'  Not that I didn’t like kids, I just didn’t think I would have much to offer and the time needed to put in to make a difference.  I decided I would go to the meeting and just listen.

That was the wrong attitude and I was wrong.  My eyes were opened to the need of an after school program for working parents from which their children benefit. This is not only an important mission of our Church to our community, the parents, and especially the children, it is our Church’s opportunity to make a difference. 

This is my 3rdyear on the Advisory Committee and I volunteer one day a week at the program.  I found that I do have time to do more. This is something I enjoy, and that this mission is helping families in need, some with no religious experience.  

When setting up this program, with the Schoharie Reformed Church, our mission was to seek and meet the needs of parents by providing them a low cost resource, and their children, ages Pre-K through 6thgrade, with a safe and nurturing environment with a Christ-Centered program designed to share with them the joy of knowing, growing, and showing God’s love.  Also to equip the children with the knowledge and tools to stand firm in a challenging world.

Each year, by word of mouth, our enrollment has increased.  This year there was a total of 42 diverse students enrolled, and a staff of 7 full & part time employees, double the amount of our 1styear.   This program is self sufficient and reimburses our Church for their expenses.  Offered are Bible lessons, a supervised homework room, creative crafts, supervised playtime, and a healthy snack. 

Some of those attending are a family of 4 siblings, and there are 2 sets of twins.
I see children with handicaps, food allergies, children with 2 supportive loving parents, children who live with grandparents, children who live with only one parent, children who live with one parent half of the week and the other parent the other half, children with a terminally ill parent, and I’ve seen kids who have watched their father abuse their mother.  
I have watched students getting off the school bus crying on their first days, that now don’t want to leave when their parent’s pick them up.

You listen to their problems when they are having a bad day at school or at home, or when nobody would play with them on the playground.  You comfort them when they fall while playing and scrape their knees or when they just don’t feel good, and encourage them when they think there is something they can’t do, or when they think nobody likes them.

You also see their smiles, excitement, & especially their wanting to please & be accepted. They make you laugh.  They ask a lot of questions, especially during their Bible lessons.  Kids are innocent & our program gives them a structure where they learn about the Bible & are taught to follow Jesus’s example to help each other, to do for others, be respectful of others, to give thanks, & pray. 

They take turns saying a prayer before their snack.  For their community service projects, they love making cards for veterans & shut ins & understand who shut ins & veterans are.  They have brought canned goods from home & stocked them in the food pantry, and decorated an empty store front window for Easter, using their footprints walking away from the empty tomb.  

It is a time where they use their imagination playing survivor, building their own creations with legos, running a restaurant with meals of play dough & make believe money, building their own village with huge cardboard boxes, and even making believe they are homeless. 

Currently during lent they are learning the importance of prayer. Each day they write their own prayer request on a strip of paper. These prayer requests are put together in a chain and you can see their prayer chain displayed in the Christian Education Building, 

There are many ways of giving ----- in which many people receive.

I would encourage everyone to visit & support this mission or any mission of our church.  At the end of the day this mission makes you smile and feel good about helping.